Pro Cycling: Armstrong, doping

By now everybody’s seen Lance Armstrong’s retirement announcement.

Lance Armstrong

When Amgen Tour of California organizers held a press conference on their new anti-doping efforts the other week, one of the top questions from media was “Will Lance be there?” Well, now we know. Maybe the sports media and casual fans will pay more attention to the current crop of top cyclists now?

Lance Armstrong helped to popularize professional cycling for Americans through his seven Tour de France wins, and many people consider Armstrong a hero for his efforts to help cancer victims through support resources and high profile fundraising through his Lance Armstrong Foundation. Armstrong, however, also rides under the constant cloud of doping accusations.

Floyd Landis in San Jose Team OUCH

I and others have already mentioned the Kimmage interview with Floyd Landis, but you can hear some perspective from Landis himself from the latest Spokesmen podcast when Landis showed up as a surprise guest.

So far, I’ve mostly avoided the whole Alberto Contador debacle. Much of the cycling world seems convinced Contador is guilty of doping with clenbuterol, while Spaniards — including the Spanish Prime Minister and the opposition leader — believe Contador is unfairly persecuted and should be exonerated.

This isn’t unlike the reaction of many American cycling fans after Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win.

This Science of Sport blog has a couple of interesting article germain to Contator’s case. In the first, Dr Ross Tucker (he has a PhD in exercise physiology and seems to know his stuff) compares the recent case of the Sprinbok rugby team with Contador’s. Two South African players tested positive for a banned stimulant, and in that case the team doctor was able to show that the stimulant was accidentally ingested by taking contaminated ‘herbal supplements.’ In some ways, this isn’t unlike Contador’s contaminated beef defense, but in the South African case, the team doctor was able to show the presence of the stimulant in the supplement, while Contador was unable to show anything.

In this article, Dr Ross expresses his disdain for Contador’s beef defense and the ‘legal loopholes’ the resulted in the Spanish sports federation’s decision to clear Contador.

Will Contador compete in California this May? AEG wants to emphasize American teams in the 2011 Tour of California, and I haven’t seen Saxo on the short list of European teams that are expected to participate.

See also: Paul Kimmage and Protecting the Peloton.


  1. What do you mean “Contador was unable to show anything?” He’s got a receipt. How much more proof do you need?

  2. It seems like a pointless debate as this point. If he did do it, than the likeliness that he would be stupid enough to continue doing it now that he’s under extreme scrutiny would be nearly zero. Just like how I find it stupid that people still accuse Lance of doping. He’s not a top cyclist anymore, and has 7 TDF wins. Is winning another race really worth causing a huge ruckus to the sport? I think he’s far above that. Maybe he doped back in the day, and we’ll never know, but he surely has no reason to do it now.

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